It’s probably one of the biggest worries for any newbie traveler: How am I going to manage my money when I’m away? Nobody wants to get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of money issues when you could be spending your time jungle-trekking in the Amazon or tubing in Laos, but if the necessary precautions aren’t adhered to then you may find yourself missing out on the fun. We’ve listed but a few examples of such precautions for you to chew over:
One: Take at least two cards
Unless you have some offshore savings accounts to access, having two cards at your disposal (one credit card and another regular debit card) is an absolute must. Generally, using debit cards for ATM withdrawals and credit cards for direct purchases will get you the lowest exchange rates. And of course it’s always a good idea to have a back-up if you should lose the other. Just make sure you keep them in separate places!
Two: ‘Pre-paid’ cards
You may want to think about equipping yourself with one of these if you consider yourself to be a bit reckless when it comes to spending, as you can only use what you have already deposited into the account. Also, in the event of losing your card and/or fraudulent use of it, your provider will cancel the card and immediately send a replacement. Plus any money lost will be automatically reimbursed. So there’s no danger of creeping into the red and they offer increased security. Alternatively, accessing offshore savings can work out cheaper than prepaying cards too.
Three: Have USD with you (outside Europe)
If the sh*t ever hits the fan, being able to produce a crisp $100 bill from your pocket will almost definitely get you out of trouble. You may not like having to part with it, but its better than winding up in a Thai prison-cell for 3 nights for something that you may or may not have done. (Having said that, you’d be surprised what people DON’T get arrested for in Thailand.
Four: Withdraw large amounts
Despite many a banks’ promise that they do not have international transaction fees, there is almost always a charge to withdraw money overseas. It’s possible that your bank will charge a percentage of the withdrawal but more often than not it will be a flat rate. Therefore, it’s better to withdraw substantial amounts that will keep you going for a couple of weeks, though again- stash it separately!
Five: Don’t use Traveller’s Cheques
No, no, no, no, NO! For God’s sake just don’t do it. They’re annoyingly oversized, outdated and all in all about as futile as Mitt Romney’s current presidential campaign. Nobody uses them anymore and the rates are rubbish. It’s a no-brainer really.
So, with that in mind, hopefully you’ve a clearer idea of how to handle your finances when gallivanting about the earth, and when the time comes, you’ll be able to trek/tube/snorkel/gargle snake’s blood etc, safe in the knowledge that you are financially secure (though perhaps not medically if you actually are gargling snake’s blood).
WRITER: Josh Taylor